We tested… the Oppo Find N, a particularly well thought-out foldable smartphone

With their flexible screen, smartphones that can be transformed into mini-tablets have exceptional aptitudes for leisure and work. The very first model marketed in 2019, the Samsung Z Fold, remains, however, today without competition in France, despite its astronomical price and its questionable comfort, when piloted with one hand.

That’s why we wanted to try its competitor, the Oppo Find N, even if this one, on sale since Christmas, is only in China. This model costs 7,900 yuan, or about 1,300 euros including taxes, against 1,800 euros for the Samsung. We spent an hour trying it out and were won over by its compact size, which contrasts with that of its Korean competitor.

Comfortable when folded

A smartphone that can be transformed into a minitablette should be able to be used in two ways: open when our two hands are free and we have a few minutes in front of us. Closed when there is little time to devote to it or only one hand available. The Samsung does not correspond to this ideal: its outer screen is too high to reach its upper part with the thumb, too narrow to enter a message without a few typos. It is handled quite slowly and quite uncomfortably.

With a large hand its comfort is almost ideal, but with a small hand it only turns out to be correct.

The Oppo’s external screen is quite the opposite: wider by 8 millimeters, it allows you to type much faster. Less high, it can be driven at full speed, a bit like the smartphones of the mid-2010s, whose measurements were more reasonable than those of current mobiles. With a large hand, its comfort is almost ideal, but with a small hand, it turns out only correct, a little superior to that of a modern smartphone. The Find N still looks a bit tall, wide, and thick. We can hope that this problem will diminish in the medium term with the probable reduction in screen margins observed today at the level of the hinge.

When you unfold the Oppo Find N, you access a screen much larger than that of a conventional smartphone. We are first of all pleasantly surprised by the absence of folds in the middle of the screen, noticeable on the Samsung and which can occasionally interfere. Unfortunately, we quickly realize that the Oppo’s screen is smaller and less well-proportioned than that of the Korean mobile. Its almost square format is not ideal for reading a magazine, a comic, a photo or a video: black bands larger than on the Samsung appear on the sides. Images and designs are a little smaller and less readable.

Above, the Samsung Z Fold 3's screen is larger (14.9 × 11.9 cm) than that of the Oppo (13.1 × 12.1 cm). Videos appear larger and more immersive.
Magazines are a bit more readable on the Samsung, as are comics.

Maturity

On the internal screen of the Oppo Find N, visual pleasure and comfort remain incomparably better than on a conventional smartphone, but clearly inferior to that of the Samsung Z Fold 3. Only A4 documents are generally as pleasant to browse on the screen. ‘Oppo than on the Samsung.

A4 documents are easy to read on the Oppo (below). The Samsung (above) does not offer better readability: with the screen tilted in landscape mode, the document is admittedly a little more readable, but it seems truncated in the direction of the height. If you switch it to portrait mode, the letters appear smaller than on the Oppo.

In our eyes, it is the first foldable smartphone whose format is really mature and convincing.

The majority of users will probably find the Oppo Find N more practical on a daily basis, as its external screen is more pleasant to use. In addition, even if it is particularly thick, it is also two or three centimeters shorter than a modern smartphone: it fits rather better in a pocket. In our eyes, it is therefore the only smartphone that can be folded out into a mini-tablet whose format is really mature and convincing.

We were, however, not able to test it further, or even live with it for a few weeks. But if, according to the Bulgarian media GSMArena, its battery is rather enduring and its photos good, its solidity remains a big question mark. Samsung benefits from a three-year decline in after-sales service on its first, second and third generation foldable mobiles. And despite this experience, we are not yet fully reassured about the durability of flexible screens. Oppo being a great beginner in the matter, caution is required.

Read also Samsung Flip and Fold: Is it time for foldable screen smartphones?

China only

For now, nothing indicates that the Oppo Find N will end up being marketed in France. China today remains the preferred playground for mobile phones that can be folded out into tablets. Five models are sold there, four of which are local brands.

In the most populous country in the world, in addition to Oppo and Samsung mobiles, you can buy the Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold, sold for 10,000 yuan (around 1,600 euros including tax), the Honor Magic V, sold at the same price, and the Huawei Mate X2 for 18,000 yuan (around 2,600 euros including tax), more expensive than the Samsung Z Fold 3.

These three brands have made the opposite choice of Oppo: their mobiles are even larger than the Korean smartphone. Their internal screens are therefore more spectacular but less comfortable when folded up.